First off, props to the Polish Princess for giving me a crash course in the Power of Three, Owen for the numerous shorthand references I've borrowed liberally from his butt-kicking season-two recaps, and, most of all, Sars for hooking me up with this gig.
Fade up on the exterior of Halliwell Manor, every light inside ablaze. Cut to the attic, where Prue Halliwell pages urgently through the Book of Shadows. Inexplicable yet vaguely menacing shots of a variety of toys are intercut with an agitated Prue, who jumps when the cuckoo clock yodels out 2 AM. The attic door slams open, and Prue whirls her body around to send the intruder flying across the room onto a pillow-heavy sofa, which topples backwards from the impact. Oops. It's just Phoebe. Heh.
Profuse apologies as Prue helps younger sib Phoebe to her feet. "Little jumpy?" Phoebe asks, and Prue lets her know that yes, she is, "especially after finding out the Evil Triad was responsible for the attacks." Phoebe announces she doesn't need a recap (out of luck there, Feeb), but does want to know why the Manor is so cold. "Did you forget to pay the gas bill?" I'm thinking Prue just couldn't afford it after paying the electric, but what do I know? With Prue's actual response, however, we're thrown into the obligatory season-premiere backstory exposition. Seems there was a little misunderstanding between the abandoned Halliwell Ps over the division of responsibilities in middle sister Piper's absence. Phoebe expresses concern that Piper and Leo Wyatt might never return from Leo's Whitelighter land of orbed-off bliss, which Prue dismisses. Phoebe notes that not only has Piper uncharacteristically not contacted them in a month, she's also left them short one sister from the Power of Three. "So, while she's up there romping around in the clouds with Leo, we've got our wicked butts flapping around in the wind, here." Okay, I'll give that line a snicker.
Phoebe notes the two of them were lucky not to have been attacked in Piper's absence, Prue counters with her conviction that things have been quiet only because the Triad is busy cooking up something truly nasty, Phoebe complains that they're screwed without their third, and Prue expresses concern that the Powers That Be won't let Piper return because she broke too many rules. They're interrupted by a phone call, and we now enter into the set-up of the episode proper. It's Inspector Darryl Morris, calling from a rave, where he's tracking a murder suspect believed to be in league with a demon. From the fax Darryl helpfully sent over, we can see that the killer's calling card is an inverted triangle carved into the victims' foreheads. The triangle "looks like a rune" to Phoebe, as if she would know a rune if it crawled up the sleeve of her hideous orange jacket and stuck its tongue in her ear. Prue searches the BoS for the symbol as we cut to Action Darryl at the rave, in a sleeveless black shirt with a cell phone glued to his ear. He's apparently chosen to disguise himself as a dealer for this assignment, as there are few other guises that would conceal his thirty-five-year-old self in the middle of a rave. Darryl tracks the bald-headed suspect, henceforth known as Cue Ball, through the club to the back door as Prue hits the page with the rune. The symbol is an opening through which demons known as the Guardians steal an innocent's soul. Armed with this bit of info, Prue warns Darryl off the trail, telling him that the Guardians protect their human killers in exchange for souls, but Darryl refuses to take the advice. Because he's a hell of a lot more dedicated to his job than I would ever be.
Darryl follows Cue Ball out the back door to an appropriately grim-looking alley, telling Prue that he can take care of himself just as Cue Ball swings in on an overhead horizontal bar to slam his feet into Darryl's back. D'oh! If Blaine Wilson had shown such skill and dexterity, the United States might have copped a gymnastics medal. Hearing trouble over the phone, the women leap into action. On their way out, Phoebe worries that they don't know how to vanquish a Guardian, leading Prue to explain that they're offed like vampires, with a stake. Phoebe pouts to the heavens, "Piper, where are you?" and we cut back to an overhead shot of Cue Ball hovering over a prone Darryl.